ATLANTA (AP) _ Morris Brown has finally paid its $380,000 overdue water bill in full, a three-month effort against seemingly long odds as the historically black college struggled for survival.
But that battle is dwarfed by the school's $30 million overall debt _ its chief obstacle to the reaccreditation needed to assure much-needed federal funding and a level of education that again attract students to the 128-year-old campus.
The school must demonstrate its financial stability to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. To do that, Morris Brown must prove itself to would-be donors and others interested in the institution's future.
``We are at the threshold of a new Morris Brown,'' Bishop William DeVeaux, chairman of the board of trustees, said in a statement Friday. ``This financial challenge was, and is, our priority before we can move forward and work toward a renewal of founding our mission.''
Morris Brown Acting President Stanley Pritchett said he is hopeful after the school bought itself more time with the payment of the water bill.
``We just might be at that place now where we can focus on the ... new plans for the growth of the institution,'' he said. ``Our deliberations with financial investors are beginning to meet with some favor and we are in a position to eliminate some of our debt. We trust that the weekly financial emergencies will cease.''
Meanwhile, the college is continuing to raise money.
On March 29, Morris Brown is planning Sunday of Hope, a statewide fundraiser aimed at Georgia churches, synagogues and mosques, soliciting prayers and financial contributions on behalf of the school.
Most of what has been raised to date has ranged from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars at a time, and organizers are hoping to change that.
``The need for large donations is even more critical now than ever before, especially from the Atlanta philanthropic community,'' said Sonny Walker, vice chairman of the board of trustees and chairman of a committee addressing Morris Brown's emergency financial situation.